Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 1st: Continued: Beethoven's House, Weingut Mayer Am Pfaarplatz, Queen's Summer House, Wein & Co., Rathaus Hotel

June 1st: A Very Busy Day
We were essentially on our own though our itinerary was well planned, we did have the options of the length of time we stayed at any one place. Klosterneuburg was magnificent and would be a hard act to follow but the one thing the three (should I say four) of us found out that new and very exciting adventures loomed around every corner.
Visit To Beethoven's House
Just up from a very artsy winery/restaurant called Hajszan (where our guide/driver and by now friend, Tibor will be having his wedding reception), was the very historic Weingut Mayer Am Pfarrplatz. The Weingut is located in Heiligenstadt which is a sub district in the outskirts of Vienna.
The Mayer family have lived in the area since 1683 and have a combined Inn/Restaurant that is as historic as the family. The house proper predates Beethoven spending his 1817 summer there by over 100 years and the actual history goes back to the 12th Century. Here, Beethoven composed part of his 9th Symphony and earlier he composed his 6th Symphony.
I walked into the building to find Roy sitting down watching Sandie talk to two gentlemen. It turned out that one was Gerhard Lobner of Mayer Am Pfarrpaltz and the other was Fritz Weininger of the famous Weininger Winery. The interview was going so well that I immediately asked Roy to start filming. Sandie was doing such a wonderful job at getting these two giants to talk that it all seemed so natural. Too natural since we were losing precious footage and as my old friend, Greg Rist used to say; "If it is not on tape; It never happened!"
The two had a super conversation talking about the building we were in, their vineyards (Weininger's 'Nussberg Vineyard' is one of the finest as is 'Lobner's Roteshaus'). One of the more interesting things that was discussed is the practice of "Gemischter Satz" which means a Field Blend where vines of different varieties are harvested and vinified together. The wine is thus not having to undergo separate aging and/or vinifying/blending process. The blend is already made within the vineyard. This reminded me of the similar practice in Veneto, Italy where the different vines of some wines are grown, harvested and vininfied together.
Our visit to Mayer Am Pfarrplatz culminated in a delicious meal made by Master Chef (Pfarrwirt Restaurant) Jorchim Graduschl which included the famous 'Schnitzel' along with other superb dishes matched with phenomenal wines from the host winery. Later a visit to the Weininger Winery proved very informative.
Schoenbrunn Palace
Now that our stomachs were full of excellent food and wine as well as major thoughts about viticulture techniques and historic ambiances, we were off to Schoenbrunn Palace which was the summer palace (all 1400 rooms of it) of Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Sissi of Austria. This palace which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, was originally purchased as a hunting preserve by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian in 1549. The property came into the hands of Eleonora Gonzalga about one hundred years later and was used for similar entertainment. Incidentally, the name Schoenbrunn means "beautiful spring".
Through the years many other points of interest were added: French Gardens (1695), a Maze, Tiergarten Zoo (1752), an Orangerie or Conservatory (1755), Botanical Garden (1828) and an Orangutan Enclosure in 2009. The place with its 300+ acres and its many exhibits was overwhelming. Too much to see all at once and certainly much to much to film with just a couple of hours to tour it. We decided to do the next best thing-----Take a Buggy Ride and be escorted through the various spots----in style. Roy could also concentrate on filming rather than mere walking.
We hired a "buggy" pulled by a rather spirited horse to take us around and we covered the area in much less time that it would have by walking alone. We passed by the Gloriette a garden commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa and the Roman Ruins---not really Roman Ruins but built as a garden feature in 1778 and the Obelisk Fountain not far from them. The trip was well worth it as the area was very large and it would have been shameful to miss viewing much of this grandiose palace.Soon the ride was over and we were merrily on our way to our next stop on this ultra busy day.
Wein & Co.
Wein & Co is located in the marketing town of Vosendorf which claims the largest Shopping Mall in Europe and the largest theatre centre in Austria. There amids the many boutiques,narrow but very clean streets and packed cafes lies Wein & Co.
Sandie noticed an orange drink that seemed to be the "in" thing on the street and in the cafes. We met up with Monika Kriwan who was obviously involved in public relations and media marketing. She sat us down and welcomed us with-----the very orange drink. Which was quite refreshing and tasty. It is apparently the rage of the area and all cafes seem to be selling it.
We met Heinz Camera (unique name) who was the owner and conceiver of the whole shop. His restaurant was indeed flourishing but so was his wine shop with 2000 labels from all over the World. "I sell my wines from the shop and allow the patrons to have it with their meals at no extra cost. I cannot understand why the rest of the world such as the USA does not do this." My response was that maybe the legalities of each country is so different that many areas, states and countries do not allow such a thing. In practice it would seem a great idea and ideal for food and wine sales. Heinz and I made a quick interview and then it was time for him to go and teach his staff about wine and for us to have dinner.
We then had dinner at Wein & Co. and I for one enjoyed the Tuna Steak very much so. I was surprised to see that Heinz's favourite wine was a South African but we had one in his honour at the table.
By the time we were done it was time to settle down for the night and we made our way for the final destination of the day----Rathaus Hotel!
What a find it was! The hotel is small but well designed. The rooms are named after a wine theme and music is everywhere. The rooms are also full of wine amenities if one so chose. In the centre of the hotel was a lovely,quaint courtyard that was surrounded---castle style---by the hotel itself. Here one was protected from the wine and sun and quietly could reflect the day's work or whatever he/she wanted. A truly nice find with an ever pleasing quiet night and wonderful breakfast the next morning.
So ended our day---it was a big one and busy one but we got through it. Now on to yet another full day of adventure, fun and wine!!!!!!!